Jan 13, 2013 2:18 PM by MTN News
Miss Montana 2012 Alexis Wineman competed in the Miss America pageant on Saturday night in Las Vegas, and although she was selected as one of 15 finalists from the 53 contestants, she didn't make the cut for the final round.
During the pageant introductions to each of the 53 women, in which each contestant highlights a unique feature of their state, the Cut Bank native told the worldwide audience that precious Montana sapphires can be found among the royal crown jewels of England.
Wineman was an early favorite in the pageant as she was named the "People's Choice" winner based on online voting in the Miss America online video contest. That selection propelled her into the ranks of the 15 finalists.
Shortly after the pageant, Wineman posted the following message via Twitter: "I can't believe it! I won 4 #America'sChoice @ the 2013 @MissAmericaOrg competition. Thanks to all of you voting for me & supporting me! XO"
In the video, Wineman explained why she felt she should be the next Miss America.
Wineman's platform issue, titled "Normal is Just a Dryer Setting: Living with Autism," focuses on her life since she was diagnosed with a form of it in 7th grade. She said she hopes to bring national awareness to it.
"Most people do not understand what autism is, and one in 88 people having some form of autism, this understanding is becoming more and more necessary," Wineman said in the video.
Wineman's official Facebook page was flooded with praise and encouragement after she was eliminated from the competition.
The praise also came from U.S. Senator Jon Tester, who released the following statement: "Sharla and I join all Montanans in congratulating Alexis and thanking her for her groundbreaking courage. Alexis set out to raise awareness of autism. She made history doing just that while inspiring millions with humor, grace and acceptance. Alexis is an extraordinary representative of Montana and more importantly, the human spirit."
The winner of the Miss America pageant was Miss New York, Mallory Hytes Hagan; the other finalists in the top five were Miss South Carolina, Ali Rogers; Miss Oklahoma, Alicia Clifton; Miss Wyoming, Lexie Madden; and Miss Iowa, Mariah Cary.
Just before the pageant began, Wineman tweeted: "The #MissAmerica2013 competition will start in less than 2 hours. No matter what happens, I will leave w/ 52 bridesmaids @ my wedding."
Here's video of Wineman from a November visit with students at CMR High School: